I’m going to borrow a leaf from Shamus over at Twenty-Sided and complain a bit about something that has been bugging me for a LOOOOOOOONG time. That would be videogame difficulty settings… or really the lack thereof. I bought the original Playstation back however many years ago the damn thing came out, and Lena and I really enjoyed it. (Lena was very worried about it until we first played Tekken and she discovered that she could kick my ass — worries over.) We played a lot of games on that old Playstation, and were happy to buy the PS2 when it came out as well.
There have been some changes in the ways videogames are made between now and then. The companies are bigger, the costs are larger, and the consequences of producing a dog game are pretty steep.
“Hardcore” gamers buy more games than casual gamers. This seems like a pretty obvious point to make. Over the years, game companies have marketed more and more to these hardcore gamers by giving them the games that they wanted. These games reward speed, perseverance, and acquired skills gained through hours of non-stop gameplay. In short, games that I no longer want to play. While I may have the desire to buy and play games, I no longer possess the time nor patience to teach myself the skills necessary to have any fun. And that’s the other side of the equation.
Now I’m not knocking these games… obviously there’s a winning model here and I understand that there’d be no games at all if there weren’t money to be made. But I have to wonder… how much longer would it have taken to add a mode where the bad guys took a quarter-second longer to shoot, or where I didn’t have to reload, or the jumps were 20% more forgiving, or any one of a zillion different settings that could be altered allowing me the pleasure of playing the cool games with the other kids instead of being left to watch from the playground fence. I have a little discretionary income, I have the desire, but I have been marginalized out of the game. I would never suggest making games easier and losing the primary audience, only give me the ability to make my game easier, and play what I want. I cannot be the only person who feels this way.
Until then, I’ll keep playing WoW. At least Blizzard understands me… and they aren’t hurting for customers.